Helping a hoarder clear out the clutter in their home is no easy feat. Not only must you embark on a monumental multi-day effort, but you must also get the hoarder to agree to your plan in the first place, which is often the most challenging phase.
The process will be worth it in the end, however, as you’ll transform the hoarder’s home into a safe and hygienic environment, thus vastly improving their quality of life. Keep the following steps in mind if you’d like to help a hoarder clear out there home.
Identify the Disorder
Compulsive hoarding disorder is a severe psychological condition with a profound impact on the patient’s quality of life. Like many mental illnesses, the disorder spans a spectrum with some patient’s severely affected and others rather mildly.
There’s a notable difference between someone messy and a hoarder. Observe whether the following applies to your loved one:
- Tendency to collect items of no value
- Refusal to dispose of trash
- Inability to use certain areas of the home due to a build-up of waste
- The untidiness of the home causes health, safety, or hygiene issues
- Consistently denies there is a problem
Persuading the Hoarder to Address the Issue
A hoarder feels a great deal of anxiety when the topic of cleaning is discussed, which makes bringing them onside extremely difficult. With that in mind, it’s often necessary to enlist professional help from a qualified therapist. Cognitive behavioural therapy tends to be the most effective method for treating someone with compulsive hoarding disorder. Ask your GP for advice on where to seek out such services in your area. An excellent resource is Anxiety Treatment Australia.
Formulating a Plan
Once you’ve got the hoarder onside, it’s time to get them to commit to a cleaning plan. Be sure to use neutral language during this stage, so as not to offend the hoarder and cause them to become defensive. For example, avoid using words like “junk” and “clutter”, focusing on the positives like “safety” and “hygiene” instead.
Work with the hoarder to come up with the criteria for items that require removal. For example, you could agree that non-functional electronics and mail over 12 months old should be thrown out, while materials such as bricks and timber should be recycled. Once both parties have agreed, put the criteria in writing and get the hoarder to sign it.
Create a Schedule
Creating a clean-up schedule will make the process easier to manage and reduce the likelihood of the hoarder backing out at the last minute. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to clear out a hoarder’s home. Allow a day or more for each room if need be.
Clean Up the Home
You may need to hire professional squalor cleaner services depending on the severity of the situation. In some cases, a hoarder’s home can present a health and safety risk as there may have been animals living within the clutter. In any case, arrange for the hoarder to stay at another premises during the clean-up process to ensure they cannot interfere.
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